How do you measure compassion? 1

By Tom Quiner

The Facebook exchange started like this:

“Debt deal is put on the backs of the poor and marginalized. The rich will bear no burden. Thank you very much Congress. NOT!”

Someone else jumped in:

“How about a certain amount of rich people’s money being given to the poor?”

Someone else jumped in:

“Exorbitant wealth seems to lead to crazy greed, over blown self-importance, and feeling the need to wield power over others. Rarely (I didn’t say never!) does it lead one toward having a charitable humanitarian truly selfless urge to help the down-trodden or the ones sliding down toward becoming downtrodden.”

For the record, each of these writers engaging in a Facebook conversation is a great human being, one making a difference in this world. I like them. I respect them. But I have a different political perspective.

I responded as follows:

“I’m missing something. The bottom 47% do not pay any income tax. The top ten percent pay 70% of all income taxes. I know people of means who are good people and people of limited means who aren’t so nice. And vice versa. I’m not comfortable with this stereotyping.”

There’s an interesting distinction between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are more religious. People who identify themselves as Democrats with no religious conviction have quadrupled in the Democrats’ ranks since the 1970s according to Syracuse University researcher, Arthur Brooks in his book: “Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism.”

Why is this relevant? Because religious people give more money to charity than non religious ones.

Professor Brooks found the divide stunning between liberals and conservatives when it comes to giving. I mention this because the Facebook writers above suggest that folks opposed to the president’s agenda are somehow greedy, uncaring, even unjust.

Liberal icon, Ralph Nader, put it this way:

“A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity.”

One liberal bumper sticker says it this way:

 “The Moral High Ground Is Built on Compassion.”

So how do you measure compassion?

Is it charitable giving? Although the average self-identified liberal household earns six percent more than their conservative counterparts, conservatives give 30 percent more to charity.

So how do you measure compassion? Is it time donated to charity? Is it blood donated to blood banks?

Conservatives donate more time and blood than liberals.

It comes down to this, according to Professor Brooks research: the typical liberal believes government should dole out compassion. The typical conservative believes he should do it himself.

I would like to emphasize that I know of committed social-justice Catholics and others who are religious (and liberal) who are in the trenches doing important work. And I know conservatives who aren’t.

And vice versa.

We all must be careful of stereotypes.

Professor Brooks, who politically is an independent, looks at the big picture. He was stunned to discover his thesis that liberals would be more compassionate than conservatives was exactly wrong.

If you measure it by blood, sweat, and tears, conservatives win.

If you measure it by feelings and indignation, you get a different outcome.

The irrelevant president Reply

By Tom Quiner

Something happened to me about a decade ago that reminded me of the President.

I was in Atlantic City, New Jersey, attending a convention as an exhibitor. I had a very good show. I had fifteen hundred dollars in cash on me.

I don’t usually carry much cash, so this was a very unusual experience for me.

As I walked down the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, a rough-looking character approached me. He looked pretty down on his luck

He said he was out of cash and needed $6 for the bus to get back to Philadelphia that night.

I felt that God had blessed me with some good business that week. So I pulled out a fat wad of bills from my pocket and began to peel off six ones.

His eyes bulged.

I realize I made a tactical error.

He came closer. “Can you make it $10 … $20 … $50?!”

All of a sudden I felt very uncomfortable as he violated my personal space. Even more, he violated our $6 deal.

I quickly put my money away and told him to forget it.


In the political drama this past week, The President and Speaker Boehner had agreed to a compromise plan that included $800 billion in new revenue. After getting the Speaker to agree to that, suddenly the President reneged.

He wanted another $400 billion.

Or no deal.

The Speaker said no deal. And from that point forward, the President of the United States was irrelevant.

Mr. Obama’s presidency is increasingly irrelevant.

He says he’s all about creating (and saving) jobs in American.

But he has no clue on how to do it.

In the recent debt drama, the democratically-controlled Senate voted down his budget 97 to 0. Not one member of his own party voted for their man’s budget.

The Obama presidency is increasingly irrelevant.

There was only one thing Mr. Obama was willing to go to the mat on: that the debt ceiling debate be resolved until after the next election.

It’s all about him. That’s the one thing you can count on.

Speaker Boehner has learned that lesson.

The Tea Party vs. the President Reply

By Tom Quiner

One simple chart explains everything.

Quiner’s Diner’s exclusive Federal Spending for Dummies chart reveals why the Tea Party came into existence. It quickly reveals why the Tea Party changed the debate in Washington from how much will we increase spending to how much can we cut spending?

The chart shows how much money the federal government spends per citizen per year in 1980 dollars. You can see how spending per citizen was relatively stable in the 90s when we had divided government. Then it began a steep incline when Republicans controlled Congress and the White House, only to explode when Democrats regained them both.

The debt ceiling deal Congress just agreed to has both liberals and conservatives mad.

Liberals want more spending and more taxes.

Conservatives wanted even less spending and less taxes.

But this deal is just the beginning. The Tea Party has taken the high ground and the most liberal President in American history is in retreat.

Vice President Biden compares The Tea Party to terrorists in his usual understated rhetoric. But that isn’t the right metaphor. I think a better one would be a pit bull. The Tea Party has acted like a pit bull in its ferocious defense of the taxpayer’s money. They have had to in light of the President’s comparable resolve to spend our money.

The battle isn’t over by a long shot.

For now, the Tea Party has turned the tide. We have a long way to go to right our ship. This debt deal was one small step in the right direction.

[Quiner’s Diner’s subscription drive continues. If you like this article, e-mail it to a friend or foe. Encourage them to sign up for a free subscription to the blog that dishes out a heapin’ plate of conservative politics and religion on a regular basis. Know anyone who pins the blame for the deficits on the wars? They’re wrong. Read this post from our archives for the details: “Is the Iraq War responsible for our deficits?” Then e-mail it to a friend.  Thank-you!]


Quiner’s Diner announces a subscription drive 1

By Tom Quiner

This humble blog has dished up 300 posts since its inception.

If you find these posts thought-provoking, illuminating, or perhaps even irritating, spread the word!

E-mail your favorite posts to your friends and enemies. Encourage them to subscribe. Encourage them to join the conversation.

I have appreciated the response from my readers, the vast majority of whom have responded with intelligence and civility.

Here are a few nuggets from Quiner’s Diner archives that your friends, family, and foes will truly appreciate:

Why the Tea Party is Weird

A Modest Proposal to Save Iowa

The Summer of Hope


The Mysterious Benefits of Marriage


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The debt limit issue at a glance Reply

By Tom Quiner

The chart above quickly tells the story.

If Congress fails to raise the debt limit, will we have enough money to make interest payments on the national debt?


If Congress fails to raise the debt limit, will we have enough money to cover social security?




Essential defense?


After these areas are paid for in August, that will leave the Treasury another $388 Billion to “play with” the rest of the month. Perhaps they can begin furloughing federal employees until spending is brought in line with the new debt ceiling reality.

Many from the Left side of the aisle seem insistent that we implement a “balanced” approach in solving our debt problem. In other words, raise taxes.

That would be the worse thing we could possibly do if history is any guide. Two researchers from the University of Ohio, Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway, wrote a famous paper in the 1980s that revealed that every new dollar in taxation led to $1.58 in new spending.

More taxes emboldened Congress to spend more.

These researchers updated their data comparing different eras and the effect tax increases had on spending.

Increases in taxes ALWAYS led to increases in spending, the increase ranging from $1.05 to $1.88 in new spending for every new tax dollar.

Republicans must hold the line and insist on spending restraint. Tax increases, whether they’re on the rich or the poor, will only make things worse based on history.

Spending is the problem.

The federal must reign in its spending appetites before it’s too late.